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Mol Cell. 2001 Dec;8(6):1243-54.

Acetylation of p53 activates transcription through recruitment of coactivators/histone acetyltransferases.

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Molecular Genetics Program, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Cellular DNA damage causes stabilization and activation of the tumor suppressor and transcription factor p53, in part by promoting multiple covalent modifications of the p53 protein, including acetylation. We investigated the importance of acetylation in p53 function and the mechanism by which acetylation influences p53 activity. Acetylation site substitutions reduced p53-dependent transcriptional induction and G1 cell cycle arrest. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of the endogenous p21 promoter showed increased association of p53, coactivators (CBP and TRRAP), and acetylated histones following cell irradiation. Results with acetylation-defective p53 demonstrate that the critical function of acetylation is not to increase the DNA binding affinity of p53 but rather to promote coactivator recruitment and histone acetylation. Therefore, we propose that an acetylation cascade consisting of p53 acetylation-dependent recruitment of coactivators/HATs is crucial for p53 function.

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